Pawlicy Advisor / Pet Care Blog

Siberian Husky Breed Guide: Characteristics, History & Care

Aliyah Diamond
Aliyah Diamond
DVM Candidate Class of 2023 at Cornell University
Is a Siberian Husky the right dog for you? Find out everything you need to know about the breed, including physical traits, temperament, training tips, grooming requirements, health issues, and more.

Huskies are strong but gentle-natured pups that are usually associated with snow-sledding but have become very popular pets across the world, as well as in the US. Many people are attracted to these dogs not only because of their striking appearance but also because of their demeanor. Their intelligence and active nature make them ideal partners for outdoor adventures and playtime.

But is this breed the right one for you and your family? Keep reading to learn useful breed information and dog care tips for Siberian Huskies.

Table of Contents

Pro Tip: Whether you’ve just gotten a Siberian Husky puppy or already own an adult dog, every segment in your pet’s life brings about new health risks. Pet insurance can keep you financially covered and protect your Husky from unexpected illnesses and accidents.

Siberian Husky characteristics

Physical appearance

As medium-sized dogs, Siberian Huskies weigh between 35 and 60 pounds and grow 20 to 23.5 inches in height. Their ears are erect and their eyes are blue, brown, or a combination of both.

Because they originated in cold climates, Siberians are always prepared for extreme winter temperatures. They have a double coat, which consists of a very dense short undercoat that helps them maintain body heat, and a long, water-resistant outer coat. Their tails are long and bushy and can be used to warm their faces while they sleep.

Their color ranges from white to black and every shade in between. Most members of the breed have white markings, especially on the legs and chest.

Personality and behavior

Siberian Huskies are smart but can have a somewhat stubborn temperament. They’re bred to run, and their love of running might sometimes be overwhelming. These dogs are quite friendly with people and enjoy human company. They’re also great with children and other dogs, especially ones they’re raised with. However, because of their high prey drive, they might chase cats, rodents, rabbits, and livestock.

Siberians can be diggers, especially in warm weather, when they will dig in order to make a cool place to lie down. They don’t have a tendency to bark but they do howl.

Lifespan

Although medium-sized breeds typically live between 10 and 13 years, the Siberian Husky itself has a longer life expectancy, typically living from 12 to 15 years. It is not uncommon to hear of members of this breed living to the ripe age of 16!

Portrait of a happy Siberian Husky

Siberian Husky care tips

Training and exercise

As with all breeds, early socialization and basic obedience training are recommended. These dogs are very social and love being in the company of their owners or other dogs. In addition, they enjoy running so for their own safety, they should be on a leash or in a securely fenced area at all times when exercising.

Siberian Huskies are active dogs and require plenty of exercise. As a working breed, they do best when they have a job to do. They also enjoy activities they can do together with their owners such as agility, obedience, and rally. In other words, these dogs need to be kept busy and active in order to be healthy and happy. If you live in an urban setting, daily walks or doggie playgroups can provide enough exercise.

It should be noted that Huskies' dense coats make them susceptible to overheating, so if you live in a warm climate or want to exercise your dog during the summer months, it’s best to focus on water activities like swimming or work in the early morning or late evening to avoid the hottest times of the day.

Grooming

Huskies are remarkably self-cleaning and usually require only a few baths per year. Their coat is less prone to matting than the coats of other northern dog breeds. Weekly brushings can help keep their skin and coat in good condition. Their undercoat sheds twice a year, during which more grooming is needed. Be sure to trim the nails regularly in order to prevent foot problems.

Nutrition

Siberians were bred to require less food than other medium-sized dog breeds - about one cup of dry dog food twice a day is a commonly recommended diet for adult Huskies. Your Husky’s healthy food quantity should be determined by your veterinarian based on their age, activity level, and size.

Be sure to feed your Husky dog high-quality dog food in order to keep their coat and skin in good shape.

Huskies can easily become overweight so be careful not to overfeed and make sure your pup gets enough exercise daily.

Living with Siberian Huskies

Considering the fact that this breed was developed under harsh conditions, it comes as no surprise that Huskies are fairly easy dogs to keep.

They enjoy human company and like having a job to do, even if it’s just keeping your children company. If left alone too much, they can become chewers, diggers, or howlers. Siberian Huskies aren’t known for watchdog tendencies but are likely to alarm bark.

Common Siberian Husky health issues

Siberian Huskies are considered to be fairly healthy dogs. A combination of a nutritious diet and suitable exercise levels should be enough to keep them in good shape and protect them against many ailments. However, some hereditary health issues can occur in the breed. The most medical common conditions to be aware of are:

  • Hip dysplasia -occurs when the hip joint doesn’t develop properly;
  • Eye issues, such as cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and corneal dystrophy;
  • Hypothyroidism - occurs when the thyroid glands fail to produce adequate amounts of the hormones;
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease - a bleeding disorder caused by a deficiency in the protein needed for the blood to clot;
  • Pemphigus foliaceus - an autoimmune skin disease that usually occurs at around four years old and might result in hair loss on the ears, nose, and footpads;
  • Epilepsy - this inherited condition tends to show up between three months and three years of age.

Pro Tip: If you don’t have pet health insurance and your Siberian Husky needs veterinary care for an illness or injury, costs can rapidly mount up. It’s always best to plan ahead and get pet insurance in case your dog becomes sick or injured. Compare pet insurance plans to see what’s covered and how much money you could save.

Siberian Huskies pulling sled

Siberian Husky breed history

Siberian Huskies were developed in Northeast Asia by the Chukchi people more than 3,000 years ago. The breed was created specifically for use for pulling sleds. Genetically, Siberian Huskies belong to the Spitz family.

The fame of the breed as a racing sled dog was confirmed when a team of Siberians raced more than 300 miles through blizzards to deliver serum to the Alaskan city of Nome during a diphtheria epidemic.

The breed was brought to the US in the early 20th century and was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1930. Today, Siberian Huskies are most commonly known as companion dogs and are ranked 12th on the AKC’s list of most popular dog breeds.

How to adopt or buy a Siberian Husky

If you are looking for reputable Siberian Husky breeders, check out the Siberian Husky Club of America's site for a referral directory of breeders.

Siberian Huskies are quite popular and are not so easy to find in local animal shelters. Be sure to keep an eye on Siberian Husky rescue groups such as Forever Husky and Free Spirit Siberian Rescue.

If you are interested in similar breeds, consider looking into Pomeranians, Akitas, and Chow Chows.

Key Takeaways

  • Siberian Huskies were developed about 3,000 years ago by the Chukchi people of Siberia who sought to breed the ideal sled dog. They’re strong, highly tolerant to cold, and have an ability to survive on very little food.
  • Huskies are friendly and outgoing, even with strangers. This makes them great family dogs but not-so-good watchdogs. This working breed needs lots of training in order to become a well-mannered member of the family.
  • The Siberian Husky is a relatively healthy breed. However, like all dogs, they have the potential to develop genetic health conditions such as Von Willebrand’s disease, hip dysplasia, and hypothyroidism.
  • Regardless of whether you decide to get a Siberian Husky puppy or an adult dog, from a rescue or a breeder, be sure to take your dog to your vet as soon as possible after adoption. Your vet will be able to notice any problems and work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
Aliyah Diamond

Aliyah Diamond

DVM Candidate Class of 2023 at Cornell University - Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Aliyah Diamond has more than ten years of experience in animal hospitals - working with dozens of species from dogs and cats, to elephants and snow leopards. Her lifelong passion for helping animals currently has her earning her doctorate of veterinary medicine at Cornell University and helping Pawlicy Advisor educate pet parents.

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